Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Blog makes news

Pretty cool -- Alyson Palmer of the Daily Report in Georgia wrote a nice story about the Rojas opinion disappearing and reappearing on the 11th Circuit website and our coverage of it:

The case of the missing opinion has been solved.
Court watchers had been scratching their heads after a June 24 sentencing opinion by a panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals vanished from the court's website. Lawyers interested in reading the decision had to go to other sources, such as the Federal Public Defender's Office in Miami or a Miami lawyer's blog.
On Wednesday, more than one week after the Miami blogger noted on June 28 the opinion's disappearance, the decision reappeared on the court's site with the original June 24 date. A few hours later, a revised opinion was issued, mandating the same pro-defendant result and bearing the explanation that the panel had modified the opinion to reflect recent case law developments in other circuits.
According to Clerk of Court John Ley, the original opinion was withdrawn at the request of the judge who wrote it. (The unanimous three-judge panel was composed of Judges Charles R. Wilson and Beverly B. Martin and Senior Judge R. Lanier Anderson, but the opinion was unsigned.) "It happens every now and then," said Ley, "but then they reissued it once they reviewed their citations."
Within days of the opinion's issuance, however, it disappeared from the court's website. Noting the federal public defender's office was fielding requests for copies of the opinion, a University of Miami law professor, Ricardo J. Bascuas, posted the ruling on the blog of Miami attorney David O. Markus.
Lawyers at the federal public defender office that's handling the matter couldn't be reached to discuss what they were thinking when their case appeared in limbo, and federal prosecutors in Miami declined to comment. But others were talking.
"When a decision like that just disappears and there's no explanation and no reason given, it just makes the court look weird—I don't know the right word for it," Bascuas said in an interview Wednesday shortly before the opinion resurfaced on the court's site.
An anonymous comment on Markus' blog mused that perhaps the court was concerned that the upcoming vote by the federal sentencing commission on whether to make changes to the crack sentencing guidelines retroactive, scheduled for June 30, could moot the case. But the commission's decision to extend its guidelines changes even to those who were sentenced years ago didn't, and couldn't, change the mandatory minimums at issue in Rojas' case; the guideline changes would help the many inmates whose crimes involved drug quantities that placed their sentences beyond (often far beyond) the statutory minimums.


Anonymous said...

Shameless self promotion, David.

Anonymous said...

"When a decision like that just disappears and there's no explanation and no reason given, it just makes the court look weird—I don't know the right word for it."

Except that there was a reason and explanation given just a few days later: the opinion was modified sua sponte. This all seems like much ado about not much.

Anonymous said...

Mistrial in Roger Clemens case based on prosecutorial error in just second day of testimony. Judges says that even a first year law student would have known better. Ouch!